Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Scene Things Differently

Character Portrayal on Stage Versus Film

James Doyle, Daniel Schwarz, Keiana Cross | Published: August 15th, 2023 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Performing Arts
  • Course Course Drama
  • Duration More 5 periods


In this lesson, students explore reasons for variance in character portrayal. Students begin by watching different interpretations of the same scene and then read an article and each select a monologue to research. Students use a random generator to change the context of their chosen monologues. Finally, students rehearse and perform their monologues.

Essential Question(s)

Why do actors and actresses portray characters differently for stage and film when drawing from the same source material?



Students watch the same scene in different media after selecting them from a Choice Board. Students then compare and contrast the versions of the scene using a T-Chart.


Students read an article about transitioning from stage to screen and summarize the reading.


Students select and read a monologue using the Jigsaw strategy.


Students use a randomizer to change the setting, medium, and time period of their monologue. Then, students write a script, prepare, and perform the monologue based on the changes.


Students reflect on their learning by answering the question, “How Am I Feeling? What Am I Thinking?”


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Stage v. Film Choice Board (attached)

  • Character Portrayal T-Chart (attached)

  • Setting Randomizer Cube (attached; one for each group of three)

  • Production Format Randomizer Cube (attached; one for each group of three)

  • Time Period Randomizer Cube (attached; one for each group of three)

  • (Optional) Make a Scene script template (attached; one for each group of three)

  • (Optional; purchase required) Contemporary Scenes for Young Actors: 34 High-Quality Scenes for Kids and Teens

  • Devices with internet access

  • Access to YouTube

  • Headphones or earbuds (recommended)

  • Sticky notes (four for each student)


25 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Display slides 2–4 and introduce students to the lesson title, the essential question, and lesson objectives. After discussion, display slide 5 and introduce the Choice Board activity. Create a QR Code or share a link to the Stage v. Film Choice Board slide deck so that each student has access.

After each student has access to the choice board, say the following to students: “Navigate the options in the choice board and select a play that interests you. You will be presented with two YouTube videos that have the same scene portrayed by different actors or the same actor in different media.”

Remain on slide 5 and pass out a copy of the Character Portrayal T-Chart handout to each student or have them create a T-Chart on a blank piece of paper. Introduce the class to the T-Chart instructional strategy and have them complete a T-Chart with the titles of the two clips, (i.e. Les Misérables 1976 stage, Les Misérables 2008 movie). Instruct students to compare and contrast the two clips they watch. Ask them to think about the different choices the performers made and list those. Have them write a brief statement about why they think the actors made those choices.

After students have watched their chosen videos and completed a T-Chart, ask a few students to share what they wrote.


15 Minute(s)

Distribute three sticky notes to each student, along with a copy of the article titled “Get Ready for Your Close-Up: Tips for transitioning from stage to screen acting” by David Vegh. Mr. Vegh is an associate professor of theater at Case Western Reserve University.

Display slide 6 and explain the Three Sticky Notes instructional strategy. Ask students to write the following on their sticky notes:

  1. One word that summarizes the reading.

  2. A phrase that summarizes the reading.

  3. A sentence that summarizes the reading.

After students have read the article and filled out their three sticky notes, have them select a few partners and ask them to compare notes. After comparing, have each group share a one-sentence summary of the reading with the class.


25 Minute(s)

Divide into new groups of three. Give groups a few minutes to select one of the monologues from Contemporary Scenes for Young Actors: 34 High-Quality Scenes for Kids and Teens or any book of monologues you already have. You can also find monologues online, such as Monologues for Teenagers.

Display slide 7. Using the Jigsaw instructional strategy, have each student in the group read a segment of the monologue and then share what happens in their part with the group so that each has an understanding of the text. If time allows, have each student group share a brief synopsis of the monologue with the class.


145 Minute(s)

Display slide 8. After students have selected their monologues, pass out a set of randomizers (printed from the attached Setting Randomizer Cube, Production Format Cube, and Time Period Cube) to the groups. Each group will be responsible for assembling three cubes: one for setting, one for production format, and one for time period. After the cubes are assembled, have each group take turns rolling their randomizer cubes in front of their classmates. If you use the paper cubes, hide or delete the instructions for the digital randomizer.

Display slide 9. Ask students to record the results for their group on a sheet of paper or provide each group a copy of the optional Make a Scene script template.

Students now develop a performance of their selected monologue to reflect the setting, production format, and time period that were selected by the randomizer. A written script must be made (either handwritten or typed) that has explicit directions on character choices so that students have a reference to follow. If dialogue is modified from the original, it should be underlined so that is easily located. After completing their script, tell students to divide it into thirds so that each person performs a section.

Encourage the groups to work together to make decisions about how the character will be portrayed. Give students two days to complete and rehearse their scripts and one day for each group to perform their monologues.


5 Minute(s)

Distribute one sticky note to each student. Display slide 10 and explain the How Am I Feeling? What Am I Thinking? instructional strategy. Have each student answer the questions on their sticky note and place it on the wall as they are leaving.